Too many in our churches are lonely. Not just the single, the widow, and the widower, but everyone, anyone of any age, any stage. And the tragedy in the church is that so often we’re too busy to even notice. In fact often those of us in ministry model the very opposite of friendship. But we need friends, those we can laugh with, be honest with, open up to, be comfortably silent with knowing there are no expectations just welcome.
Satan is a thief. He takes what’s not his. Be it glory, worship, children, whatever he can get his hands on. He’s also a saboteur, read Genesis 3, he doesn’t form things, he doesn’t do beauty, he can’t create culture, he can only sabotage it, or create counterfeits. He steals, he twists, he warps, he deforms. And we live with the consequences. Our lives so often are impoverished as a result without us even realising it.
One of the treasures that Satan has stolen is friendship. I love the image in the garden of Eden of Adam and Eve enjoying an rich intimacy that is founded on knowing one another without shame or fear. It was a relationship of love and laughter and total safety and joy. And it isn’t just an image of marriage, it’s an image of community, of friendship. What they experience they are to replicate as they multiply until God’s good creation is filled with people who enjoy relationship with God and with each other.
The Bible is big on friendship. It shows us dysfunctional friendships and beautiful friendships like David and Jonathan, or Jesus and his disciples, that leave us longing to taste that same joy filled trust and intimacy. But Satan is always looking to sabotage and steal that joy. And the result of that is that we are a church that is marked in the West by loneliness. And that’s tragic. Loneliness is endemic in Western society.